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Updated: December 22, 2011 18:12 IST

Stories from across minds

Harshini Vakkalanka
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Elegant execution: Women and horses with silky manes
Elegant execution: Women and horses with silky manes

Animal motifs and Persian fairytales, little girls in the lap of nature, and a grim contrast in a man who looks within — frames from an ongoing exhibition

Persian miniatures of folklore and nature lend an otherworldly charm to the ongoing exhibition at the Renaissance Gallerie.

The enchantment created by the Iranian miniaturist Sheyda Baseri was reinforced by Vishakha Kanavi's more contemporary play on pretty girls in the lap of nature.

Vishakha Kanavi's girls are slightly Egyptian with their short, jet-black hair and seemingly folksy animal motifs of peacocks, butterflies and fish.

Her rendition of a pair of girls catching bright butterflies in a garden was quite charming and would probably fit quite well in a little girl's bedroom.

The animal motifs, especially the peacock and the fish, reappear on the girls' princess-like pink clothing through her accessories.

“My husband is an environmentalist and so I'm inspired by nature and my surroundings. I have a son and I've always loved girl children. They constantly appear in my works. My backgrounds are usually done in bright, primary colours because I'm always reminded of little girls wearing their bright frocks,” says Vishakha

She has also done some abstracts on crows, placing them in bright backgrounds. The cartoonish crows are also quite appealing (as appealing as crows can be).

“I'm from Gulbarga, where there are hardly any crows. When I moved to Bangalore, I suddenly saw a lot of crows and I was fascinated.”

Sheyda's miniatures, in watercolour and acrylic, though a little animated, are more elegant in their execution.

Her characters, whether the women with their bright blue eyes and flowing hair or animals (deer and horses) with silky manes appear as though they belong in a storybook.

Sheyda believes that miniatures are found only in India, Iran and China — regions where folklore is rich.

“I've been doing miniatures since my childhood, for 16 years now. In our country, they teach us how to paint miniatures in school. Behind each miniature, there's usually a story. I have seen how popular Indian mythological characters like Krishna and Radha are in the Indian miniatures. Similarly, Persian miniatures draw from our collection of mythology, which appears in the Shahnameh.”

For instance, her miniature of an old man gazing at a parrot just out of its cage is a depiction of a Persian story, of a businessman who went to India and brought back a parrot. The man showed his bird off, saying it could sing. But nobody believed him. So the man freed the bird and as soon as he did, it started singing.

Devidas Dharmadhikari's works, also part of the exhibition, are a little more grim and subdued. His works are like a hint of dark clouds over a sunny day.

But these don't take away from the beauty but add depth to it. His large unframed acrylic on canvas work interspersed with rubber stamp-styled text look like banners.

What stands out on his canvases is the image of the man, brooding with his head on knees or standing out on the canvas with his contemplative expression.

His paintings are an exploration of identity, in the conflict between the labels that society thrusts upon man and the existence of a deeper self.

“Will I be successful in evaluating myself through the different labels that I get from the society, or do I have to keep looking deep into myself to get the answer? In spite of the innumerable labels that I get from the society I feel an urge to know the reality of my feelings, my thoughts, my inner voice and this is what I would like to show through my paintings,” writes Devidas.

The exhibition of paintings by Devidas Dharmadhikari and Vishakha Kanavi and miniatures by Sheyda Baseri will be on view at the Renaissance Gallerie, off Cunningham Road until December 24. Contact 22202232.

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